I made it to San Diego in the midst of our latest snowstorm, but it took some doing. When I made the reservation with the cab company, I warned them how bad the roads were in the hills where I live. I called a cab, because we couldn’t get our vehicles safely out and down the steep hill where my garage is located. I was assured it would be no problem. However, the driver called and said he couldn’t get down my street. I wasn’t a bit surprised. So I hoofed it in boots a couple blocks to the main road. He was nice enough to come get my 38-pound piece of luggage and carry it for me. I was born in Portland and have lived here most of my life, but I have never seen washboard streets and highways such as I experienced. A typical 22-minute ride to the airport took nearly an hour. We never exceeded 30 miles an hour. City streets and freeways alike were hummocks of ice and snow. I’m glad we don’t have to do this all the time. In fact, I always say one of the many reasons I like Portland and western Oregon is because we have a temperate climate with very little snow. Some years we don’t have any. Everyone is saying, “No more.”
I arrived in San Diego with no problem. My trip was through Country Heritage Tours, the same company I used for the Houston trip in October. I went a couple days early to spend time with my son, Michael who lives there. Trip participants stayed at the Embassy Suites Downtown. Here’s a picture taken at dusk of the Coronado Bridge from my hotel window. The hotel was also directly across from Seaport Village, an area on the waterfront with shops and restaurants. We were just a 5-minute walk to The Fish Market, a favorite restaurant of mine and my son’s. Needless to say, that’s where we ate dinner the first night. I recommend the hotel for its great location, and it’s reasonable when you take into account the breakfast and happy hour that are included in your daily rate, not to mention the doughnut from the Dunkin’ Donuts on-site you get at check-in!
We had a full tour on day one, beginning in Mission Viejo with Hoffman California Fabrics, famed for their batiks. We had 51 people in our group–all women.
The first thing I learned was that while Hoffman fabrics have always been screen-printed, the company now does digital-printed fabrics, as well. Screen printing allows up to seventeen colors, while digital allows printing with as many colors as “exist.” Here’s an image of digitally-printed fabrics. You can see the fine detail achieved with the process.
Another new idea Hoffman Fabrics has come up with is pattern pieces printed on yardage. Wait a minute, you might say. This is nothing new. But rather than cut out the pieces and assemble, the quilter stitches along the outer edge of the pattern pieces, effectively shrinking the yardage down into a completed quilt top. Here are the two examples we were shown. I wish my photos at Hoffman were better, but our speaker wanted to cover a lot of material and held samples for a very short period of time.
You can see how well this concept works with traditional, geometric patterns. Curved and organic designs–I can’t imagine.
Hoffman also prints yardage with all of the colors they use. The format reminds me of paint color chips. I can imagine quilters using it to make quilts or purchasing a single yard for reference purposes.
We saw a great deal of fabric. Personally, I found the tour of the “plant” the most interesting. Hoffman receives the batiks from Bali in large rolls. It’s up to workers to “fold” the rolls into bolts for stores. An employee can do up to 40 bolts a day.
We toured the plant with a granddaughter of the original founder, Rube Hoffman, and couldn’t help but notice the surfboards on the wall. She said there used to be a great deal more, but they’ve been donated to museums. Four generations of the Hoffman family have been expert surfers, many renowned. Rube Hoffman, surfer and entrepreneur, came up with the idea to manufacture colorful shirts from batiks created in Bali. This is Hoffman’s 90th year.
Next our guide led us into the space where artists create the fabric designs. Three women were at work on computers. I was struck by the “inspiration wall” which mirrors the inspiration wall many of us keep in our personal studios. Notice, there’s no order to it. It’s just like mine and probably yours. There were also shelves with greeting cards, books, and other items used as inspiration or reference.
Across from this wall, is one containing all of the swatches for recent and upcoming fabric releases.
We were all surprised and delighted to receive a large roll of various batiks.
Next stop was Eleanor Burns’ Quilt in a Day studio located in San Marcos. Participants were impressed to see Eleanor herself greeting each and every person at the door.
Here we are seated in the media theater waiting for Eleanor’s presentation.
I have to admit, I’m an art quilter where fiber art is concerned, and while I always say I would love for someone to give me a traditional quilt, it’s not the type of work I do. However, I really enjoyed Eleanor’s presentation. She owns 274 vintage and antique quilts. Her latest book, Quilts From El’s Attic, features images of some of her antique quilts and their updated versions, along with pattern pieces and instructions, of course. We followed along in her book, as she presented quilt after quilt. The innovative touch to her presentation was the use of videos you can just see at the top of the photo above. She explained the quick and easy method of construction that she used to create particular quilts. Not surprisingly, she has some inventive ideas. After all, that’s what she’s known for. As we went along, she also tested us on the traditional names of the quilts. I must learn to identify more!
Here’s a selection. I did not purchase the book, so I don’t know the titles Eleanor gave the quilts.
Eleanor explained her sister Patty (ie?) constructs a number of quilts for her, this being one of them.
Theresa, who is holding the quilt, is someone else who works with Eleanor, constructing quilts for her books.
Our day ended back in San Diego at Rosie’s Calico Cupboard. I couldn’t take a photo because we arrived after dark. But lucky us. We had a homemade dinner prepared and served by Rosie, her family, and staff. Afterwards, we all agreed that meal would no doubt be the best of the trip, and it was in my opinion. Imagine smoked chicken and ribs, chicken tortilla soup and baked potato soup, best baked beans I’ve ever eaten, salad, rolls, and more served with wine and topped off with carrot cake. Amazing. I say the same for her shop and her warm welcome. We didn’t get back to our hotel until nearly 9:00 PM.
Up next is day two which ends in Temecula, known for Old Town Temecula and Temecula Valley Wine Country.